Tag Archives: Gulbag

A Walk Through My Old Neighborhood…

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Our first neighborhood flourished in the shadows of the Istanbul’s Trump Towers. It remained relatively untouched from the business district that developed around it. The neighborhood is called Gulbag  (pronounced Gool-bah). Its residents vary from families and university students, to recent African refugees.  There are two large mosques and two public schools in this small neighborhood. On week days you can hear the school bells throughout the day (the same tune of the ice cream truck from my childhood). Five times a day, the mosques in the area would broadcast their call to prayer, a few seconds before or after the others in the neighborhood.

 I was the first foreigner many of the store owners had ever met, and often was the first person they had ever heard speak their own native tongue. I developed relationships with my favorite vendors in the neighborhood by dispensing daily greetings and pleasantries. One shopkeeper would always give me small treats when he ran into me at the end of a long day. It was in these exchanges where I practiced and developed my Turkish, and began to feel a part of the community where I resided. In the 15 minute walk that led to the metro from our apartment, we would walk through the three bustling commercial streets. On these three streets, anything and everything could be found at some of the cheapest prices in Istanbul.

We observed a lot of development in the neighborhood during the two years that we lived there. New modern apartments were built, an office building opened, a park was renovated and the roads were widened. The face of Gulbag changed during this time, and will probably continue to do so as the city develops around it. These are some of the first pictures that I took in the neighborhood in October 2009 in my effort to capture the Gulbag we knew as home.

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A Walk Through the Bazaar

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The word for Sunday in Turkish is ‘Pazar’. Thus, the bazaar is a weekly event in most Turkish neighborhoods and towns. People from all over the area come to the local bazaar for produce, fish, nuts, cheeses, clothing, spices and household goods. It is a lively and overwhelming experience to many foreigners, but a part of everyday life for most Turks. The bazaar is where you find the best deals and the freshest produce. A normal back street is transformed into a lively market space. Vendors yell the price of their goods, and attempt to lure you to their stands. Large and small busses change their routes to bring people to and from the bazaar. The streets are covered with plastic tarps, and the products are carefully arranged. You can find almost anything in the neighborhood bazaar: bras, honey, shoes, head scarves, eggs, pickled vegetable, special sauces, socks, cheese graters, cutting boards and more… It is a vibrant experience that excites all of the senses.

Unfortunately, as the number of supermarkets and malls increase throughout the city, the neighborhood bazaars have slowly declined in number. Bazaars no longer occur solely on Sunday. Nor does each neighborhood host a bazaar of its own. In Istanbul, the major bazaars are spread out throughout the week.

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It proved to be quite difficult to find an English schedule for the bazaars throughout the city, so below is my attempt to create one. It is not a comprehensive list, but highlights some of the most popular bazaars, as well as some of my personal favorites…

The Istanbul Bazaar Schedule

Monday: Bahcelievler

Tuesday: Kadikoy

Wednesday: Fatih and Yesilkoy

Thursday: Akatlar and Erenkoy

Friday: Findikzade and Gultepe (Levent)

Saturday: Bakirkoy, Besiktas and Ferikoy (the organic market!)

Sunday: Gulbag (Mecidiekoy), Kosuyolu and Tarlabasi